Gov. Bill Haslam, left, awarded a $120,000 grant for improvements at two Surgoinsville parks Wednesday. The grant was accepted by Mayor Johnny Greer, center, and Rep. Mike Harrison, right. (Photos by Jeff Bobo)
SURGOINSVILLE — The
final leg of Gov. Bill Haslam’s tour of Hawkins and Hancock counties Wednesday
took him to Surgoinsville’s Creekside Park, where he announced a $120,000 grant
for improvements at the town’s two public parks.
The money will pay for a
walking trail to connect the Creekside Park with the nearby Riverfront Park, as
well as restrooms at the Riverfront Park.
Five years ago this grant wouldn’t
have been possible because one park belonged to the state, and one park didn’t
In 2009 Surgoinsville received a 25 year lease from the Tennessee
Wildlife Resource Agency for the Riverfront Park and boat ramp on the north bank
of the Holston River off of Longs Bend Road.
A year earlier the non-profit
Surgoinsville Medical Board had purchased the land for the Creekside Park just
up the road. Work on Creekside Park including a covered bridge over the creek
and a picnic shelter was completed in 2010.
Wednesday evening Haslam and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau awarded a $120,000 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant to Surgoinsville for the construction of a Creekside trail and trail head facility.
The RTP grant will enable the city to connect Creekside Park to Riverfront Park by constructing a six-foot-wide, 100-foot-long paved trail from an existing pavilion at Creek Side Park.
Surgoinsville will also build an ADA-accessible trail head facility, which
will include restrooms, at Riverfront Park.
The Recreational Trails Program
is a federally-funded program established to distribute funding for diverse
recreation trail projects.
Surgoinsville will be required to match 20 percent
of the grant.
Surgoinsville Mayor Johnny Greer said he was beginning to fell
discouraged a couple of weeks ago because he saw so many things that his town
needs but don’t have the resources to pay for.
“Then I got a call from
Nashville that said the governor was going to be coming, and I said, this is
going to be good,” Greer said.
Haslam described the Creekside Park as “the
“Compared to some of the prettiest spots in the state where
I’d like to be right now, I’ll take this one beside a beautiful creek on a
gorgeous day in one of our historical towns,” Haslam said.
As for the grant,
Haslam noted that there are way more applications than funds to pay for them. He
said approval of Surgoinsville’s project was a reflection of the town’s “great
“This really dove tails nicely with what we’re trying to do in
Tennessee,” Haslam said. “We’re trying to have a healthier state. I love
Tennessee. I think it’s the best, but we’re ranked like 39th or 40th when it
comes to health as a state. One of the things we’re trying to do is get folks
out and about more. The more ways we can give them to do that, the better it
Haslam added, “But it also builds a sense of community. At the end
of the day people choose where they’re going to live, and they’re going to
choose those places that have the best quality of life. This is one of those
things that will add to the quality of life here.”
Greer said both parks are
heavily used by the community, both for exercise and for socializing.
is excellent news for Surgoinsville, and I promise we’re going to use this
wisely, and we will remember where it came from,” Greer added.